Despite a perceived down season in 2015, New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey is still the ace and bonafide face of the franchise.
By Robby Sabo
Lately there’s been no smiling for Matt Harvey. Whether it’s taking the mound or knocking in runners at the plate, Harvey has displayed a nastier snarl during recent outings.
It’s the reason he’s still the ace of the pitching staff and face of the New York Mets.
This is hardly surprising considering how we’ve come to know the 26-year old from New London, Connecticut.
This type of player isn’t made from the same ilk as everybody else. While everybody across Major League Baseball is competitive, he’s completely insane in that area. He’s a guy who wants the attention, craves the spotlight, and demands nothing short of front-man dominance.
If he’s not the leader of his club, he’ll do whatever is humanly possible to make sure he is – and won’t rest until he succeeds.
His bulldog-like attitude that was on full display in 2013 had Mets fans already thinking Tom Seaver.
Due to his early successes, coming back flawlessly from Tommy John surgery was already a forgone conclusion. After all, this was “The Dark Knight” and this type of surgery is now perceived as no big deal.
Contrary to popular belief, it became a big deal. While Harvey did bust out of the gate quickly (pitching scoreless games in four of his first eight outings), he didn’t dominate like we saw two seasons ago.
The velocity has remained the same, location and sequence dipped a bit.
That, along with Jacob deGrom’s dominance (and straight filthy silliness in the MLB All-Star Game) changed popular belief for which of these young arms is actually the ace of the pitching staff.
In a narrative-type regard the ace of the Mets conversation doesn’t serve a purpose. It’s all in good fun to pick the best out of a crop that is currently seventh in baseball with a 3.49 ERA.
As it relates to where this team is currently sitting in the standings, however, it’s critical.
The Mets are just four games behind the San Francisco Giants for the final NL Wild Card. If they were to capture that spot come October, a one-game, due or die playoff will instantaneously become the biggest story for this organization since 2006.
It’ll be delirium for their fans and the talk of the town in a relentless fashion.
Who would Terry Collins hand the ball to in such a situation? deGrom or Harvey?
Admittedly, deGrom has been the better pitcher through 98 games in 2015. His 10 wins, 2.18 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 119.2 innings has been sheer genius thus far. He was the Mets only All-Star and made the most of that opportunity (as everybody is now well aware, especially the AL).
Despite deGrom’s brilliance, Harvey needs to remain the ace of the Mets. And should they find themselves in that Wild Card Game, he needs to get the ball.
Simply put, postseason baseball isn’t the regular season. Many pitchers have lived to explain why their October days couldn’t match the brilliance they showed from April through September.
Ask Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw, the reigning NL MVP and two-time NL Cy Young Award Winner, pitched to a 1.77 ERA a season ago. In the playoffs he choked it away by allowing 11 earned runs in just 12.2 innings.
This happened to Kershaw two years in a row.
Nobody is suggesting deGrom won’t be able to handle postseason baseball. In fact, his calm demeanor and cool temperament on the mound gives us every reason to believe he’ll thrive when the money’s on the line.
Harvey though, is still the man.
Everything about the guy screams “money player.” To go along with a mentality that nobody is going to out-do him on his night, he acts in a way that has others compare him to October legends such as Curt Schilling and Jack Morris.
Let’s also not forget how filthy Harvey’s stuff is.
It’s amazing how overshadowed his season has truly become. Of course he’s not on that torrid pace we saw two seasons ago, but a 3.19 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 118.1 innings heading into Saturday night isn’t too shabby.
Furthermore, he’s doing it during an adjustment season (Tommy John).
Harvey’s been the face of the Mets since arriving late in the 2012 season and demands to be the man. Naming deGrom the ace would bring a wide variety of negatives as opposed to the slight positive it provides.
Do not take the face of the franchise tag away from Harvey until he shows you he can’t handle it.
I’ll place a bet on Harvey anytime.
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.@The7LineArmy knows what day it is! @MattHarvey33 heads back to the mound for the top of the 4th. 5-0 #Mets! #LGM pic.twitter.com/aZa81tDfV7
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 26, 2015